A week at the Leeds Hut in Dunnerdale, July 1983

24/7/83 Coniston Old Man from Dunnerdale

Route: Leeds Hut Duddon Valley – Grey Friar – Coniston Old Man – Seathwaite Tarn – Duddon valley 

A frustrating slow start from the Leeds hut up to Cockley Beck. Once on the hillside proper, the pace improved somewhat. The path was hard to find. We had to take quite a few rests – not a fit party. Only myself, Mitchell and Duncan were fit enough. We went straight up the side, leaving one member of the six-person party as a dot in the distance. We arrived at the summit of Grey Friar to find IH and a brace of his kids, already there – having come up a quicker route, if that were possible.  

The weather improved but remained hazy. As a larger party we pushed on down to down to a tremendous col affording a great view of Seathwaite Tarn, and thence up onto Brim Fell. From there, Levers’ Water was visible, as was Coniston Water itself, though almost hidden by haze. From there up onto Coniston Old Man itself. 

From the summit we split again into two parties. IH and his family went over Dow Crag and back to Dunnerdale via the Walna Scar Road. We descended to Seathwaite Tarn for a refreshing swim. Thence along the side of the tarn, over the dam (it is a reservoir) and down to Hinning Ho. Then up the Dunnerdale road back to the Leeds hut.  

My feet suffered because my socks were threadbare. Of the original party of six only two of us (one being me) brought water onto the hill! 

26/7/83 Scafell Horseshoe omitting Scafell

Cars were dropped off at the Woolpack in Eskdale, thence, to the Three Shires Stone at the top of Wrynose. A good start, missing the first summit (Cold Pike, 2259’). Cloudy on the tops, no spectacular views. For the first time through the “shelter” on the eponymous Shelter Crag (2631’). First sight of Bow Fell from the three tarns, looked very impressive. Near Three Tarns one of our party got separated from everyone else here and committed the almost unforgivable sin of crying “Help! Help!”. We knew so little in those days!

Ore Gap – windy. Broad Crag saw the only photograph of the day, a hazy impression of Great Gable. Descend to the col before Scafell Pike, and up – impressive [when you’re 18 as I was]. Lots of tourists on the mountain. Over Scafell Pike, down to Mickledore. Here, the appearance of The Lord’s Rake put off Mr AP [who was reputably, Eric Clapton’s lawyer at the time] and so we did not go up onto Scafell. Instead, via Broad Stand down into a hanging valley, down into another, lower, hanging valley, and hence down into upper Eskdale – a river valley rather than a glacial U-shape. A long slow descent to Brotherilkeld [the roadhead, or the point at which the Eskdale road reaches the foot of Hardknott Pass]  and then a painful two mile tramp along the road to the Woolpack where we’d left the cars. The walk caused blisters and some deep cuts to my toes from adjacent toe-nails. At the end I was limping. But a darned good days walk notwithstanding. 

28/7/83 Kirk Fell

Route: Kirk Fell from Wasdale Head Inn 

The tops were in cloud as J. Rivett and myself left the pub and started up. Fast, with one stop. We reached the summit thinking it was Great Gable. Both of us realised that we had climbed the wrong mountain; neither of us mentioned it. We were not close friends. We descended very fast back to the pub.  

Back in the pub, few if anyone had actually even moved. This was that occasion at the end of my childhood when I said something coarse and someone said “He’ll never be refined”. We shall see.

29/7/83 Harter Fell

Route: Harter Fell (2129’) from Dunnerdale, through to Eskdale and back via col 

A lively jaunt through the forests to the summit in cloud. A party of six of us including the legendary teacher “Doc” Hawley made an ascent of Harter Fell. Good views of Wrynose bottom before going into the clouds. Over to the Woolpack (arriving just in time for last orders) and back via the  col, through drizzle, along a way-marked rout to Birks Bridge, thence along the road to the Leeds Hut.